Automated drilling is still one of the main focus areas for IRISEnergy. It is heartening to see the increased interest in the technology in the industry, including to reduce drilling costs. This, together with IRIS’ international recognition, forms a basis for new projects, publications and invitations to participate in international arenas. Now that we know how important a role the virtual environment has played for research into automated drilling, it was very encouraging to receive funding for Virtual Arena through the Research Council’s infrastructure programme. NOK 48 million over 3 years will give national access to a unique development and testing arena, and not least it will be an up-to-the-minute aid to petroleum education for both Norwegian and international universities.
In the evaluation of basic and long-term research in technology, IRIS Drilling and Well stood out as an environment that performs extremely well, and it was the only institution in Norway to receive the highest possible marks for research relevance and influence.
DrillWell centre for increased oil recovery
SFI DrillWell was established in 2011 and is a centre for research-driven innovation. The centre is led by IRIS, with SINTEF, UiS and NTNU as research partners. In 2015 Lundin joined as industry partner. DrillWell thereby receives financing from five oil companies, in addition to finance from the research council. These are Statoil, ConocoPhillips, Det norske, Wintershall and Lundin. DrillWell was awarded three additional projects from the Research Council’s Petromaks2 programme in 2014 and 2015, and now has financing of NOK 50 million per year.
The centre has increased its focus on international collaboration. Through an award in the newly-established Research Council programme INTPART, DrillWell is now leading a project under the NorTex umbrella that will increase collaboration between Norway and Texas. The project will provide researcher exchange and joint publications and arrange joint events. Participants in the project are SFI Offshore Mechatronics, GCE NODE and the universities Rice and UT Austin in Texas
Main results from DrillWell during the period 2011-2015:
- A computer model has been developed that is used to optimise clearing wells of drill cuttings. The model has already proved its worth in use for wells on the Norwegian continental shelf.
- Solubility of gas in oil-based drilling fluid is measured at high pressure and temperature and great differences have been demonstrated in solubility on drilling fluids with different oil bases. This could have great significance for safety when drilling wells with high pressure.
- Experiments have been made to study how cement in wells can degrade if the well is exposed to temperature variations when changing between production and injection. The work is expected to be significant for optimising cement mixes.
- In full-scale experiments it has been demonstrated that it is possible to achieve good placing of cement in production pipe and in the annulus between production pipe and casing for wells that are to be plugged and permanently abandoned. This result could lead to great cost savings by avoiding the need to pull the production pipe before the well is plugged.
The Research Council has approved the centre’s plans for phase 2, which runs from summer 2016 to summer 2019.
Plugging and abandoning wells
Plugging and abandoning wells (P&A) is a strategic focus area for IRIS Energy. During the course of 2015, eight different project proposals were developed that addressed P&A issues, while we concluded experiments connected with the “Tubing left in hole” project. During the course of 2015, we received financing for three of the project proposals: “Cementing Irregular Wellbore Geometries”, “Leakage risk assessment for plugged & abandoned wells” and “Technologies for barrier evaluation”; in total these have a budget of around NOK 46 million.